Why consistency is key to building trust in data and processes

Failure is a lonely place – and, in the construction industry, it’s often all too easy to get to. There are so many stakeholders and such a variety of inputs that a simple mistake can set a whole project off course – leading to delays, poor workmanship, safety issues and a ballooning budget. Indeed, as a result of delays and rework, less than a third of projects over the last three years have come within 10 per cent of their expected budget.

In our recent Construction Project Management Virtual Forum, we drilled down into the cause of some of the issues construction teams face every day and, with the help of an industry panel, discussed how to make successful delivery the norm, rather than the exception.

The data gap

When faced with a challenge, construction professionals draw on a combination of information and experience to help them make the right calls. In fact, if a site manager has access to the latest information, he or she can usually resolve issues quickly and prevent the need for rework.

But the sheer volume of stakeholders and documents means it’s a real administrative challenge to ensure everyone who needs it has access to the right information at the right time. And because there’s a fine line between success and failure, when a team member is looking at outdated versions of a plan that line is an easy one to cross.

This problem is compounded by the fact that 63% of construction professionals rely on a manual paper-based process rather than a digital model. And when we asked attendees about safety at our Project Management Summit, half of the respondents told us they still used paper-based workflows and spreadsheets to manage it.

While many in the industry are aware of the limitations of manual systems, the general lack of a single, sitewide communication and document-management platform often leaves them resorting to keying data by hand into rudimentary solutions. Not only is this an extremely inefficient use of site time and resources, but it also opens them up to the risk of data-entry errors.

Aside from errors, storing so many different versions of plans on such a variety of systems creates a headache for information security. With little control over who is accessing information and where it is stored, it’s not hard for data to make its way into the wrong hands, and this could have severe implications.

In response to the problems with communication, sites across the world are moving away from paper and implementing new technologies to connect the job site and eliminate the issues of version control. But this creates its own new set of problems – often, the subcontractors across the site are each using their own systems to store and access information, and it’s rare that these systems talk to each other. This lack of a consistent methodology to share documents often results in manual re-entry of data, in turn leading to potential errors.

A common data environment

The solution is to develop a standard document management strategy that allows a wide range of stakeholders to collaborate effectively. Known as a common data environment (CDE), it is a single-source digital hub where information comes together as part of a typical BIM workflow. It can include anything from project contracts, schedules, change orders, and more.

Creating a CDE creates a consistent model for construction firms to share information efficiently among all the members of project teams requiring access, no matter where it is stored. This means everyone with the right permissions can access the most up-to-date information right when they need it.

A common data environment enhances collaboration, provides a single source of truth, improves efficiency and quality, reduces risk and strengthens security. One important benefit is the ability to self-serve. When managers want to know what is happening or why there’s a delay, they no longer need to call around to find answers. They now have access to the information at their fingertips. And that also makes the whole payment and invoicing process much simpler, as any changes to the original plan that may have influenced the cost are simple to spot.

Global engineering firm, Gamuda, has recently moved to a CDE in the Autodesk Construction Cloud. In a recent on-demand virtual forum, John Lim, the company’s Executive Director, Digital & Innovation, spoke to Autodesk about the benefits. He told us the value lies in the way it streamlines the process of conveying information and keeps everyone along the chain in sync.

The Benefits of ISO 19650

When implementing a common data environment, there’s little point in repeating the mistakes others have already learned from. The ISO 19650 standard represents a best-practice approach to the organisation and digitisation of information about buildings and civil engineering works.

It provides a common, consistent framework that enables collaboration among all project members and allows information to be managed efficiently across the entire lifecycle of a built asset. It also gives users the ability to allow information to be exchanged in an efficient and collaborative manner without putting sensitive data at risk.

By implementing a system that is compliant with the ISO 19650 standard, like the Autodesk Construction Cloud, a firm can future-proof its systems to meet the changing compliance and regulatory environment.

A giant step forward

Anyone working in the construction industry is already acutely aware of the challenges involved in collaborating, communicating and sharing information with a wide group of stakeholders; in fact, when we asked attendees at our recent Construction Project Management Virtual webinar what the top three challenges their organisiation faces in consistently delivering successful projects, nearly two thirds said it was collaboration, communication and information sharing across project teams.

That some are already solving this problem through common data environments is a giant step forward. However, there’s a long way to go if the rest of the industry is to benefit from faster and more accurate decision-making under what are increasingly tighter timeframes.

For more information on how you can build trust in construction data and processes, watch our on-demand Project Management Virtual Forum.

Sasha Menon

Regional Content Marketing Manager, Autodesk